Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I Saw The Future Of Law, And It's Not What Any Of You Morons Are Talking About On The Internet

I spent the day at my law school alma mater yesterday speaking to students about, well, about a lot of things. They asked questions, I asked questions, They talked about their future, and I spoke of my past.

I've also been sitting back, watching the failed lawyers try and convince the greater legal community via blogs, articles and quotes at happy conferences that the future of law is what they deem it to be. The drum beats louder every day. It's no longer that e-lawyering is part of the future, we are now being told if we are not part of the sit-at-home-and-sell-legal-services- world, we will not be a part of this perceived future. Google + is a total complete failure, but to those who have nothing to talk about, it's the future. Lawyers are shutting down their practice because they have determined they have the secrets to running law firms, and rather than practice law, they are going to sell you their secrets to success.



There is no "future of law."


Not a single student asked about building a practice by keyboard and monitor from mommy's basement. Not a single student spoke about twitter, dropbox, or anything with .com at the end.

They spoke about offices, firms, clients, courtrooms, "meaningful" practices," and passion.

They don't know you "future of law" people are full of crap yet, because they haven't met you, you and your self-fulfilling prophecies that because you are un-interested in going to an office and having face to face communication with clients, everyone else one day will be as well.

It's OK if you have decided that your future of law is going to be in pajamas, or going from Starbucks to Starbucks, or trying to tell successful lawyers that (for a fee) you have all the answers. Most of us know better. Most of us know that it's merely your reality, your inability to practice law like lawyers - in the presence of clients, in a suit, in a courtroom or conference room. You are merely tired, or broke, or getting to the point of being broke, and trying to convince the world that lawyers who practice "normal" law are going to die off soon.

Your future of law is law by tech and teaching "secrets" that are about as secret as your failure. That's great, for you.

But it's not the future.

Because as I know, and as I heard yesterday, your future is just that.


Non-anonymous comments welcome. Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.Share/Save/Bookmark


Unknown said...

Building a legal practice or any business takes years of hard work and some luck. Twitter, Blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google +, etc... may help build an online presence; however, these platforms can't replace good old fashion hard work, research skills, personal communication skills, etc....

David Fuller said...

I should have done my deposition today by Skype and told everyone it was the future of law; and that, I couldn't be bothered to show up or change out of my pajamas.

Aaron said...

Facebook etc. is a nice supplement to the real work it takes to build a practice -- you know, the four non-profit boards on which I sit, never-ending handshaking, and the endless rubber chicken banquets. Social media doesn't replace the real stuff, but it can enrich it.

Aaron said...

Facebook etc. is a nice supplement to the real work it takes to build a practice -- you know, the four non-profit boards on which I sit, never-ending handshaking, and the endless rubber chicken banquets. Social media doesn't replace the real stuff, but it can enrich it.

Christopher G. Hill said...

A great, and surprisingly upbeat post Brian. While my online presence seems to help with initial client contact, I am also old enough to remember pre-blog days so I know for a fact that the personal interaction and face to face contact with real people is the best way to build a practice.

Frankly, its more fun too!

Matthew Berry said...

I'm glad you got to realize this. A few weeks ago you posted about a student who engaged herself with the topic of advertising for lawyers, and how you found it refreshing to see a law student actually work hard and pursue substantive interests. You asked whether other students are also like her, or whether she was an anomaly. I meant to answer that question weeks ago; alas, I was too busy eating my lunch at my desk so I could get back to work as quickly as possible, and eventually forgot.

I hope your recent experience has answered the question for me: YES, we are not all the I-want-it-all-and-I-want-it-now young lawyer. Most students do not care (or even know) about SEO, SMO, internet presence (read: self-puffery), etc. In fact, my experience (I just graduated in May from law school in chicago) was that most students recognize that the greatest opportunities for sustained success cannot be seen from a distance of more than a few milimeters from the grindstone. So we keep our noses pressed firmly against it - all the while volunteering to second-chair for free, pursuing research and writing articles for peer review and publication (in an edited medium, not just a blog - no offense), making face-to-face (and eye-to-eye) contact with both clients and other lawyers, acknowleding our own inexperience, etc.

The loudest amongst us may whine and holler about how to get rich quick, or sue whoever you can when that doesn't pan out, but most of us aren't like that. I enjoy your raging against the trends in lawyering which dominate the e-dialogue, but please remember that the majority of us are just working too hard to contribute to the conversation.

Jackie Carpenter said...

We have outstanding interns that are enthrallex with actually going to court. One sat with me at a recent trial and he loved it beyond words, stayed upbeat and perky the entire time, and did things I didn't even ask for just to be helpful. The social media gurus are, in my opinion, the anomaly.